Lessons learned after Break Away refurbish

Shimano Ultegra components bound for the bike parts boneyard. Replacement cost $700.

Every time I work on my bike I’m reminded why I would never cut it as a mechanic. Good mechanics are good to know.

What would take a mechanic a couple of minutes to do, like replace a shift cable on Ultegra, took me hours, and I’m not exaggerating.

Threading the cable through the right way proved daunting, and I couldn’t find anything on YouTube that made the task easier. It’s not intuitive and the cable bend inside the shifter caused no end of frustration.

However, I’m in no hurry these days.

The first lesson is to photograph your bike before beginning, and I mean every angle. Second, mark and measure all the old cable housing, noting their orientation. You’ve got four cables going at weird angles, overlapping each other.

When threading the shift cables, which are the biggest headache, be sure to use the proper housing. Brake housing is thicker than shift housing. That I knew.

Cutting the cables should be the last step. You never know if you might have to re-thread something, but once cable is cut it can fray. It only takes a tiny amount of fraying to cause headaches. I tried soldering the ends after cutting and it worked out well, although you may need to do some sanding to make them the same width.

Use end caps on all the cable housing, except for the front brake, which doesn’t really need one inside the barrel adjustment housing. In fact, I don’t think a cap will fit inside if used.

When adding new components, check for compatibility. Shimano is known for changing specs across each generation. Gone are the days when components rarely changed. I also noticed NOS for Shimano products is almost non-existent. Ultegra 6700 stuff is hard to find.

I’m using Shimano 105 ST-5700 shifters designed for a 10-speed freewheel. I need to ride some miles to be sure it’s dialed in.

The BBR60 Ultegra bottom bracket replaced my old Shimano Ultegra R6700 BB. I’m not sure why, but it didn’t go on as easily as the old one. The BBR60 was redesigned with a smaller face, but I was provided an adapter for the old crank tightening tool I already owned.

I didn’t find a Shimano 105 BB anywhere online initially, although there are a few out there. Not sure if they’re compatible, but the BBR60 works.

Be sure to shift the levers into the proper setting before threading the cable. This is not essential, but when it comes time to adjust the cables, you’ll discover that you have to downshift to the proper setting before any adjustments can be made.

I had to review the process for cable-adjusting the front derailleur. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the procedure. Park Tools has some excellent tutorials.

If you want to remove the chainrings on a Shimano Ultegra or 105, the five bolts require a Torx 30 driver. These bolts are installed at the factory and are extremely tight.

I used a battery-powered drill with a fresh battery and put it on “hammer” mode. Give the bolts a dose of penetrating oil and let the crank sit for a day or so. Use a heat gun on the bolts before removing them.

Press down with all your strength to keep the crank from moving. Use short bursts of power to back out the bolts.

But it may be better to buy a new Ultegra crankset for about $225, or a 105 for $160. The large Ultegra ring goes for $150. The 34T ring costs $18.

Looking at all the hassles with today’s bikes, there’s something to be said for the old days when index shifting didn’t exist, and a six-speed freewheel was a big deal. Bike repair was much simpler and parts plentiful.

One thing I do like today is the quality of bike tires. I went from 3,000 miles on a tire to more than 6,000. That’s progress.

3 Responses to “Lessons learned after Break Away refurbish”

  1. Rob Says:

    When Chain Reaction closed Los Altos, I picked up an octalink 105 crank, no chainrings, for $15. I think they had sold the chainrings separately (it was a triple.), and were left with several spiders.

    Some new things I don’t need, some are big improvements. The better shifting cassettes and chains developed for index shifting make friction shifting better than it was before. Cassette/freehubs don’t result in bent rear axles, like every 2×6 freewheel bike I have ever owned.

    • Ray Hosler Says:

      Cupertino Bike Shop sold a steel axle that was way better than Campagnolo. That ended my broken axles. Not so fast!!!! Today (Feb 29) I discovered a broken axle on my 6 spd Campagnolo hub. Doh! I have another old wheel with a spare axle. No point buying a new one since my days riding miles are behind me.

  2. Jay Says:

    I recently did a rebuild on a almost unused 2004 or so Cannondale I got cheap. Didn’t like the Deore triple on it, so I outfitted it with 105 5700 components and it was hard to get these components–and not all the cheap either. The octalink bb that was on the bike weighed a ton and I was replaced with a Hollowtech. Took me forever to figure out how to tune the FD. Apparently you have to use the low limit screw to move the cage as close as possible to the outer chainring and then set cable tension. This isn’t explained in the instructions, I think Shimano wants all installs/repairs to be done by real mechanics I guess. I’m probably no better at this than you at this sort of thing Ray, but I enjoy doing it when I learn about the evolution of parts/components. Frustrating as it can be to have to order yet another little tool or socket to complete a task–I doubt anyone would trade what we have today for what existed in the olden days when we were young.

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